GAINESVILLE -- Florida snapped its four-game losing skid without its top all-around player, knocking off Vanderbilt 50-47 on Wednesday in an ugly, seesaw affair sans forward Dorian Finney-Smith.
UF’s redshirt junior -- the team’s second leading scorer (12.9) and top rebounder (5.8) -- was suspended “indefinitely” for violating team rules, but freshman forward Devin Robinson stepped up in Finney-Smith’s absence and registered the game-winning dunk on a nifty baseline feed from point guard Kasey Hil with 2.1 seconds.
Robinson scored a team-high 12 points, 10 after halftime, responding after another first-half benching following a myriad of defensive lapses.
“Kasey penetrated and got the big man in the air,” Robinson said.
“I was just in the right spot at the right time. ... [The benching] was hard. Donovan was tough on me. He said a couple words that probably hurt my feelings, but I didn’t put my head down. I just went out there and took it as a challenge.”
"A challenge" is exactly what Wednesday's game amounted to, as baskets were a premium.
Florida, losers of two consecutive games by a single point, overcame a ghastly shooting effort without Finney-Smith or leading scorer Michael Frazier (high ankle-sprain).
The Gators hit just 36 percent from the field and 50 percent (10-of-20) from the free throw line, scoring a measly 19 points in the first half.
The Commodores, led by freshman sharpshooter Riley LaChance, crawled into halftime on a 13-0 run, as Florida failed to score in the final 8:37 of the period (0-of-10 FG).
Still, UF was able to hang around because Vandy wasn’t any better (33 percent).
The SEC's top 3-point shooting team went just 6-of-20 from behind the arc.
The Gators eventually righted the ship (sort of), as Robinson and Alex Murphy hit key shots and allowed UF’s defense to setup a suffocating press. The Commodores’ youth struggled with the pressure, committing 6 second-half turnovers and forcing poor shots early in the clock.
“Offensively it is an absolute struggle,” Donovan said.
“A struggle. … It was a tough shooting night by both teams. I thought both teams struggled to score.”
The Gators went on a 13-0 run midway through the second half, only to see the Commodores trigger a 12-4 sprint late and take a 47-46 lead with 50 seconds left.
But Florida (13-13, 6-7 SEC) finally found a way to win a last-possession game with a key play by a pair of underclassmen.
Meanwhile, Finney-Smith was suspended for the second time in his UF career, missing three games at the start of the 2013-14 season.
“He’s not playing against LSU [on Saturday],” Donovan said. “Then I’ll revisit it on Monday. … Dorian’s decisions represent a lack of commitment.”
Murphy and freshman guard Chris Chiozza were a combined 3-for-31 from downtown in SEC play entering the contest, but the two reserves combined to shoot 4-of-8 from 3-point range on Wednesday. Murphy’s 11 points matched a career-high … Sophomore center/forward Chris Walker registered a career-high five blocks. … Vandy is now 0-6 in games decided by a single possession this season, while UF moved to 3-6 in such contests. … Frazier “might” miss the remainder of the year with his high-ankle sprain, per Donovan. … Donovan won his 499th career game. … LaChance led all players with 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting.
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